Locks Gallery is pleased to present The Way Things Are, bringing together the work of Ulla von Brandenburg, Florence Doléac and Virgil Marti. The exhibition will be on view from September 21 through October 27, 2012. There will a reception for the artists on Friday, October 5th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
The objects around us have connotations that come from the history of decorative arts and design, but are also interwoven with the personal stories of their owners. In turn, these floating meanings tacitly influence our perceptions of situations, places, and décors. The artists in The Way Things Are approach the semantics of objects from the angle of affect. From pathos to laughter, they engage our empirical knowledge and imagination. Ulla von Brandenburg, Florence Doléac, and Virgil Marti question our relationships with "things" in different ways. The exhibition is inspired by, and connects with, other realms—theater, industrial design, and the decorative arts.
The correlation between art and object is a recurrent concern in contemporary art. Marcel Duchamp exploited the distinction between art and non-art object, most explicitly in his Readymades. In his essay Art as Design/Design as Art (1986), Dan Graham demonstrated how Pop was premised on vernacular design and Minimalism on industrial design. For Richard Artschwager, furniture forms offer subjects with human temper—the fussiness of the Victorian, the rationality of International Style. With his plethoric Individual Objects, Allan McCollum observes how a person transfers emotions onto mass-produced bibelots, which become private symbols to them.
A candid suggestion to escape from melancholy, Florence Doléac’s work is lightheartedly conceptual. Her idiosyncratic take on objects derives from an amused observation of how we engage with design in everyday moments. Trompe-l’oeil sculptures artificially revive the poetic and sensory reach of an open door in an aurora borealis, or of a silk curtain fluttering under a rush of air. Her vantage point incorporates an acute critique of contemporary society and how design interacts with it.
Virgil Marti is interested in how natural forms have been interpreted through cultural objects of the past. His Chandeliers series is a hybrid of antler and Venetian glass chandeliers; some of his Poufs and low reliefs stand for modern vanitas, incorporating skulls, withered flowers, and burning candles. His body of work conveys an interpretation of the decorative arts history, which touches on the grotesque and personifies the ornamental.
Ulla von Brandenburg’s theater curtains physically and metaphorically signal the threshold of fiction in her oeuvre. Her fabric sculptures and objects introduce in absentia the protagonists of a silent scenario. Crystal balls, game boards, and paper birds tell their own stories of destiny and fortune in highly choreographed 8mm films. Typical instruments of fin-de-siècle theater like masks, shadows and cutout silhouettes genuinely recall the Baroque idea that the real world is a theater.
Ulla von Brandenburg (b. 1974, Germany) has had solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Kunsthalle Zürich, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Dusseldorf Kunstverein, Wattis Institute in San Francisco, and Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Her installation Singspiel, was part of the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. Death of a King (2012) is on permanent view at the Palais de Tokyo.
Florence Doléac (b. 1968, France) co-founded the influential Paris-based group Radi Designers in 1993, before embracing a solo career as an artist, ten years later. She has had numerous exhibitions in Europe, including at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and mudac in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is her first exhibition in the United States.
Virgil Marti (b. 1962, United States) was part of the 2004 Whitney Biennial. His work has been shown at the ICA Boston, Participant in New York, Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and ICA Philadelphia, where he also curated an exhibition from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2011.